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Washington 25, Us 24, Boehner 18, Mitch Mcconnell 11, California 10, T.j. 10, Harry Reid 9, Alex Witt 9, New York 9, Mcconnell 9, Citi 7, D.c. 6, T.j. Holmes 5, Reid 5, Kristen Welker 5, Cummings 5, Obama 5, Chicago 5, America 4, Pennsylvania 4,
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  MSNBC    Weekends With Alex Witt    News  News/Business. New.  

    December 29, 2012
    9:00 - 11:00am PST  

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have a healthier holiday at hello there everybody. high noon in the east, 9:00 in the west. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." she is off this weekend. i'm t.j. holmes. here are the first five stories trending at this hour. fiscal faceoff or new year's resolution. also one tax that will go up. marilyn monroe closely watched by the fbi. director's feud over "django unchained" and a chance for 100 lucky people to star in the super bowl halftime show alongside beyonce'. details on those stories throughout the hour. but up first, right now senate leaders scrambling to find common ground to avoid going over that fiscal cliff. got less than three days to go now, folks. at the same time in his weekly address today, the president
says he's preparing a plan of action if no deal is reached. >> if an agreement isn't reached on time, then i'll urge the senate to hold an up or down vote on a basic package that protects the middle class from an income tax hike, extends vital unemployment insurance for americans looking for a job, and lays the ground work for future progress on more economic growth and deficit reduction. >> republicans say they want a deal as well, but they highlighted their biggest sticking points today in their weekly address. listen now to missouri senator roy blount. >> senate democrats have spent months drawing partisan lines in the sand. the president's proposal to raise tax on the top 2% of americans won't even pay one-third of the annual interest that's now owed on this massive $16 trillion debt. in fact, the president's tax hike would only fund the government for eight days. >> the senate is set to reconvene sunday at 1:00 eastern time. the house expected to be in
session sunday. are going to start around 2:00 with the first votes coming around 6:30 p.m. let's head on over to the white house. kristen welker standing by. a lot happening in washington, d.c. a lot happening i would assume at the white house. but how engaged is the presidented to in moving this thing forward? >> reporter: good afternoon, t.j. i am told there are conversations going on at the staff level. as you know, he met with congressional leaders here at the white house for about an hour on friday. now sources who are familiar with that conversation tell me that the president essentially said to lawmakers, you have two options. one, come up with a plan that can make its way through both chambers, or allow his proposal to go through a vote in both chambers. and that's what you heard the president referencing in that sound bite that you just aired, t.j. in the president's proposal it calls for extending the bush era tax cuts for those making $250,000 or less as well as extending unemployment insurance benefits. many republicans have an issue
with that tax extension for the $250,000 mark because it allows rates to raise on those making more than $250,000. as you heard roy blunt just say, they think that would be bad for the economy. so there's still a lot of sticking points going on right now, though the action is with the senate majority leader harry reid, minority leader mitch mcconnell trying to put together some alternative package that could in fact make its way through both houses. after they met with the president on friday, they sounded cautiously optimistic. here's what they had to say. take a listen. >> we'll be working hard to try to see if we can get there in the next 24 hours. and so i'm hopeful and optimistic. >> i'm going to do everything that i can. i'm confident senator mcconnell will do the same. but everybody, this is whatever we come up with is going to be imperfect. >> and t.j., there's a lot of pressure on lawmakers and on the president to get something done. we've already seen the markets impacted by this.
a lot of americans have just expressed frustration and concern over what's going to happen to their tax rates in the new year if in fact lawmakers can't get a deal. so there's a lot of public pressure to get something done on this. and of course, time is really running out. t.j.? >> kristen welker for us at the white house. thank you so much. and joining me now with some inside perspective, there he is smiling this morning, democratic congressman elijah cummings a ranking member of the oversite committee. you are in baltimore, maryland right now. >> that's right. >> when are you heading back to washington, d.c.? >> i'll be in washington sometime later on this afternoon. >> and sir, what are you going to do when you get there? >> well, sadly, t.j., the house is in a position where we're going to have to wait and see what the senate does. as you remember, last week speaker boehner presented this plan b, which would have given -- extended tax cuts to those making less than $1
million and that was soundly rejected by his caucus. he never even presented it to the floor. so basically what he's done is thrown up his hands and said the house is out of this. we're just sitting on the sidelines sadly. so we have to wait and see what the senate is going to do. i was very glad to hear mr. mcconnell and senator reid say that they were going forward trying to work out something. but t.j., we have to address this moment very seriously. because there are so many people who are going to be possibly harmed if we don't act. and so we're just going to have to see what they're able to come up with. >> and i've got some more policy things. but on the politics and the optics of it, explain to people who are watching now who are a couple of days away from their taxes going up. it's hard for them to get their heads around you not being in d.c., that congress or the house at least not being in session. it's as if -- again it's the
optics of this thing. it almost sounds like you're saying we've got to sit back and wait and see what happens. it doesn't sound like work is being done. it doesn't sound like there's a sense of urgency that needs to be right now. >> i think there is a sense of urgency, t.j., just because of where we are. we're right at the deadline. as a matter of fact, it looks like we will be here on new year's eve and possibly new year's day. they've already alerted us, mention of the house, to look at a possible way of doing that. so there is a sense of urgency. the problem is that we've got a group of tea party folk over in the house who basically has pretty much dictated what mr. boehner can agree to. so therefore, they've said they would not go for a million dollars tax cut on all of those making a million dollars. so i mean, i don't know where we go from here. and i think boehner, who's a good guy who wants to make a deal, he really wants to make a deal, but he can't.
and he's basically said that. even his own members of his party, the gentleman from ohio said these tea party guys have come in and quote messed up the place. >> you said something very important there are there. you couldn't get it through -- i say you i mean the house, speaker boehner, couldn't get it through at a million dollars. it's not going to come over from the senate at a million dollars. that cutoff will be 400,000 maybe, 5, whatever you want to say it will be lowser than 1 million. so whenever it comes over what gives you confidence if it couldn't get done at 1 million it's going to get there? in essence how can you say you have any confidence we are not about to go off the cliff in some way form or fashion. >> thank god for democrats. if we can get a bipartisan agreement through the senate and it comes over to the house, basically i think you're going to have a group of democrats and a group of republicans who are going to get together, put together enough votes to pass it. i just think that this is an urgent moment for us.
we've got to rise to the occasion. we've got to put party aside. this is not time for party. so that's where my confidence comes from, t.j. >> the other thing, why not the payroll tax holiday? that's not even a part of these discussions necessarily right now. i had jarp ed bernstein on a little earlier. he said the reason they're not talking about it is because no one is necessarily a champion for it. people's payroll tax, the holiday that's been at least two years is going to go away january 1. everybody's taxes on average are going to pay $1,000 more. why not champion that? why are you not talking about that? >> that is a great question. i think a lot of people are very concerned about social security. i never felt that social security should be a part of this deal at all. but keep in mind, t.j., when that money is not going into the social security account, that means that that money has got to come from someplace to replace it. so i think people are concerned that we keep social security as stable as we possibly can. and that's why folks are not jumping up and down about that tax. because again, it was a
temporary situation. we want social security to be solid. in my district, t.j., most of my seniors, all they have is social security and medicare. that's all they have. and so therefore, we want to make sure we keep that solid. and i think that's why you're not getting a lot of flack with regard to that issue. >> all right. well, representative cummings, sir, always good to talk to you. you're going to be back in washington this afternoon. and i guess you'll just be on stand by. >> i'll be on standby. but i'm telling you, i am anxious to get this resolved done for the citizens of our country. >> all right. representative cummings, i think everybody agrees with that sensiment. and no doubt it should have been done before now. you shouldn't even be here. good to see you but we shouldn't be here talking about this right now. representative cummings, enjoy the rest of your weekend. good luck in washington now. next hour we'll hear from more lawmakers about the fiscal cliff. we'll have senator bernie sanders from vermont he'll be here as well as representative karen bass of california. in our 1:00 eastern hour right
here on msnbc. we need to turn now to weather. a winter storm another one dropping snow in the northeast. take a look now. you know a lot of people -- just a few days away. we've got a little snow coming down here now actually. that's the spot a lot of people are going to gather. right outside the studios here, rockefeller plaza. but the new year's countdown they expect some million people to be out there when the ball drops. but when that ball drops, how bad is it going to be out there? are they going to be getting snowed on? dylan dryer, would you recommend going out there on new year's receive in. >> of course. it's new year's eve in new york city. but the snow will be gone by then. it is a snowstorm nonetheless and the roads and anyone traveling in the northeast will run into some issues. we've already seen some reports of pretty bad road conditions across pennsylvania and new york state. that's where the snow has been heaviest. in new york right now it's just pretty at this point. it hasn't really made a mess of the roadways. the storm is going to take this
track, moving in from the mid-atlantic and then off the coast of cape cod, massachusetts. that's going to keep the heaviest of the snow right in that area in pink from boston right back into hartford. that's where we're going to see our heaviest snow. everywhere elsewhere we have those winter weather advisories we are going to get some snow but about 1 to 3 inches. so it's totally manageable. but any snow on the roads obviously does cause some issues. you see on the storm tracker here where the shades of blue are showing up across new york, back into eastern pennsylvania, even in central new jersey. that's where the snow is coming down heaviest right now. notice it's just to the west of that rain-snow line where it is still mixing in with a little bit of rain. we're not getting reports of too much ice, but it does look like we'll see a widespread 3 to 4 inches of so with some isolated higher amounts around 6 inches across the northeast from pittsburgh right up into buffalo, over into albany. but that shade of pink from boston down across southeastern mass back into northern rhode island, that's where we could see about 6 to 9 inches of snow
isolated 10-11 inches possible. but most of the new york city area will only see about 1 to 3 inches. of course by the time we get into new year's eve it looks like most of that will already have fallen of ground and tomorrow is a sunny day. so definitely still recommend new year's eve in new york city. >> no matter what, people would still recommend new year's eve in new york city times square. >> this is my first time enjoying it. so look forward to it. >> all right. dylan, we will see you again shortly. thank you so much. we have some west coast headlines coming up for you next with how some of the tea in china is now being replaced. plus the lost political capital on capitol hill in the wake of the fiscal cliff negotiations. that's coming up in our straight talk. share everything.
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about 15 minutes past the hour. some headlines now making news on the west coast. "the seattle times" like a lot of papers across the countried to has the story about the looming fiscal cliff and negotiations underway to get a deal by the deadline. they refer to the talks as a "taxing puzzle." the "l.a. times" has a story on how china's tea farmers are now turning to coffee. why? coffee thrives in high altitude areas and commands as much as three times as much money as tea. also "the spectrum" in st. george, utah has a story titled "unconventional laws." it's an article about how some state laws may seem strange to many residents. one that mandates bicycle riders should keep one hand on the handle bars at all times or get this you could face 90 days in
jail or a fine of up to $750. well, three days now to go. you've been hearing about this fiscal cliff. i know you're tired of hearing of it. you've got three more days to hear of it. we might be going off that cliff here shortly. it's the focus right now in d.c. but it's also our focus, the senate in particular. majority leader harry reid and minority leader mitch mcconnell are rushing trying to put together a last-ditch agreement for a bargain, some kind of a bipartisan bargain. joining me right now political editor for the pbs news hour and white house reporter for the "washington post." hello to you both. okay. last minute deal. christina, do we have time for this? i mean, i talked to representative cummings. most of the representatives are not even in washington, d.c. right now. if they hammer something out in the senate, do we have enough time to make it by january 1? >> yes. congress does always have time when it comes to matters of congress. but do they want to have enough
time? this is another question entirely. mitch mcconnell and harry reid have a pretty good personal relationship. they each will privately tell you that they're friends, they actually like each other, and they're both here in washington having some pretty serious discussions about what they can have that passes the senate. can that actually pass the house in time for the deadline is another question. you're going to have lawmakers coming back late sunday night. they have a lot of other things they actually have to tend to. so what ends up happening? is it very possible right now it seems the calculus for a lot of these members is to let the tax cuts expire and then come back and do some sort of patch. >> you think that's our best case scenario? do you agree with that, david, the scenario? we go off the cliff. someone suggested this morning we go off the cliff just a little bit. we don't bungy jump off the cliff. we fall a few feet. then they fix it after a few days and say we have put in tax cuts. is that the most likely scenario you see? >> there's a lot of people on both sides that have talked
about that as much as two weeks ago. i think looking ahead to the next few days before we get ahead of ourselves on that, there is time to have a deal. we looked at last year's payroll tax. went kind of down to the wire. but the senate ultimately passed a bill the house was able to pass as well. i think that's the model we're looking at here. a couple of questions are the threshold for whose taxes are protected and whose goes up, the difference between president obama's proposal of 250,000, republicans at 400,000 probably. but also this idea that we can do a big deal right now. there's not enough time. and the to sequester these mandatory spending cuts to defense, there's not enough time to deal with those. that is a concern to many republicans, actually many democrats as well. that could be a final hiccup here even as we get closer on the tax question. >> so how are we supposed to do is then, christina? if we couldn't get it done at $1 million. speaker boehner couldn't get that done. is it going to look like a bipartisan agreement of over in the senate that's going to go to the house, may pass with bipartisan support and then that just makes speaker boehner look
even worse than he has the past week or so? >> getting a bipartisan deal, i mean that's really an interesting question if it ends up making somebody look worse. what's interesting to me about the calculus in all of this, this little bit of political kabuki theater. in some case that's actually what it is. polls are showing that the american people are actually following this debate very closely. it's one that has been warned about for a long time. the automatic sequestration cuts have basically been warned about. we've known about them for almost a year. and when the american people are following this, if you let the tax cuts expire and then vote for a tax cut anew are you really going to escape getting some sort of blame back home whether you're for tax cuts or not for tax cuts? so people are a little smarter than that. and a lot of members of congress are wary. so if they get democrats to vote for this, that's going to be a bipartisan deal they can all hang their hats on. but does it achieve the long-term reform the president and a lot of conservative
republicans say they're looking to see in government? >> i'm really glad you said that. david she hit on something important. you can't avoid this debate. it's everywhere. but she just suggested we're not going to fall for that. you're not going to fool us. you're not going to come back and say we went off the cliff and now we're voting for taxes. we're not going to fall for that. so who is going to come out if there is a deal before january 1? who's going to come out looking into this? is anybody? who's going to come out looking bad or worse than bad? >> a couple of thimgs things, t.j. i think it depend on what the ultimate deal is and where that line for threshold on tax increases is. looking ahead to the 2014 election, some of the republicans who might have to vote in favor of this do fear a challenge from their right, more conservative hard liners those from tea party districts in particular who have to defend this. who looks good and who looks better depends on where we are. because we're having a smaller deal they're going to have to come back and negotiate things like the debt limit, the sequester and the spending cuts.
this is not going to end, anyway. we're still going to round two and three coming up in january like it or not. >> don't forget they didn't actually get everything done in the lame duck session of congress which is over on wednesday they were supposed to get done. the farm bill is about to be over. they're going to have to do a short term extension of that. in general, washington looks bad on the whole. it's not necessarily about one party or the other. although the president is seeing high approval rating right now. >> your absolutely right. david, christina, good to see you both this weekend. don't see you again beforehand have a happy new year, all right? >> you, too. >> thanks. about 22 minutes past the hour. want to turn now to number three that was on our top five trending stories. new details from marilyn monroe's secret fbi file? they show just how closely the fbi was tracking her. the associated press got ahold of previously redacted documents that show informants reporting on monroe's late in life mutual infatuation with a leftist man she met while in mexico on a shopping trip.
the file also said money for marilyn monroe productions was finding its way into the communist party and the production company was filled with communists. new years clutter is no match for someone with big ideas. with a new project in mind, some how-to knowledge to give us an edge, and more savings down every aisle. it only takes a few twists and turns for those bright ideas to make the new year even brighter. more saving. more doing. that's the power of the home depot. start fresh and save with hdx 20 gallon totes, a special buy at just $5.88 a piece.
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nobody's after you. from the psychological thriller "black swan" starring natalie portman a movie that did very well for her, it's one reason she tops forbes magazine's list of most bankable stars. forbes says for every dollar she earns her movies make nearly $43. kristen stewart, she comes in second. her movies return about $40 for every dollar she makes. and then shia labeouf number three with his movies earning nearly $36 for every buck he's pai paid. and the game of thrones, such a big hit for hbo that it was the year's most pirated tv show. of course that doesn't necessarily make the network happy. i wonder why anybody would be watching that show, pirating that show. last year's top pirated show, geks ter drops to number two followed by the big bang theory, how i met your mother and breaking bad. at the box office "the hobbit" continues its smash number one
run. on track to earn $230 million in three weeks. while "less mis" has become the best-selling soundtrack in the nation. those are your number ones this weekend with alex witt. ♪ [ male announcer ] you've reached the age where you don't back down from a challenge. this is the age of knowing how to make things happen.
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about the standstill. >> there is a sense of urgency. the problem is that we've got a group of tea party folk over in the house who basically has pretty much dictated what mr. boehner can agree to. boehner, who's a good guy who wants to make a deal, he really wants to make a deal, but he can't. >> all right. head to capitol hill. there's mike viqueira standing by for us. you know something else that representative cummings said. i just said you're standing by. it seems like even when they come back to d.c. they're going to be standing by. they don't seem to have much to do in the house right now. >> reporter: that's absolutely right. don't have anything to do in the house. for now they don't have anything to do in the senate, t.j. that's the thing. harry reid, mitch mcconnell, the two democratic and republican leaders respectively in the senate got back from that big white house pow wow yesterday behind closed doors. timothy geithner, top aides, top house leaders as well renewed sense of optimism. they were going to get to it, negotiate, try to come up with
something on a smaller scale anyway to get us past this fiscal cliff to make sure the average or typical american family of four's taxes don't go up by $2200 next week when you throw all of it together. we are tolded to that there have been telephone calls, e-mails back and forth at the staff level throughout the course of the evening and into this morning perhaps later today we will have a face-to-face meeting but with staff, not with the principals involved. not with the the senators involved. we don't expect to see them in the capitoled today at all. can they agree on a level here. and if mitch mcconnell the republican leader can bring along enough republicans to have it pass the senate and then really put the onus on john boehner. and that's one of the ifs and bus about this. of course we're talk about mud night new year's eve, monday into tuesday for the deadline here. the world is not going to come to an end, t.j., if they go into tuesday and have to do it then. but certainly they are under the gun. there's a lot at stake here. a lot of people are shake their heads at the dysfunction.
anded to ina today inactivity a u.s. capitol. >> we'll get back to you. i'm going to move onto a conversation about this topic. how much political capital has been lost over these negotiationegotiation negotiations. republican strategy is and democratic strategist and the former national press secretary for the democratic national campaign committee. gentlemen, thank you both for being here. let me start with you though, david. your guy, speaker boehner. >> yes. >> right now. you know what, how's he holding up? is he pretty much out of this thing at this point in terms of trying to hash out a deal? seems like it's in the hands of the senate. >> what the speaker had done, what the house had done back in august was basically pass all the -- extending all the tax cuts and dealt with the sequestration. the frustration what he was trying to manage was in fact
that the senate hadn't taken up any of those bills. now he had sort of gotten to this point. having said that, given the meeting that happened on friday, now there's some optimism in the sense of senator reid and senator mcconnell being able to sit down and work through a lot of these issues and present those to both the senate and then that gives the speaker the chance to deal with it. but i have to tell you, one of the things that the speaker was dealing with in terms of the vote that he did about a week ago dealing with the $1 million and above was the fact that there was a lack of confidence the senate would do anything with it. so i think this really improves those chances. >> improves the chances. this sounds like as i bring you in, doug, the same back and forth, the blame game, well i tried this but they didn't do that. it's up to the senate. the speaker couldn't do this. this is the same old same old that i know a lot of viewers will listen to and sounds the same. i know you probably think the same and i hear it, i hear the same. so can we put that aside for just a second? are we going to get this thing done now? and is it the time pressure that's forcing this to happen
versus just the sense of duty, quite frankly, is to go up there and get your jobs done. we shouldn't even be here right now. >> this is kind of like the "groundhog day" movie with bill murray where we've seen this movie over and over again with the debt ceiling, the government shutdown that occurred, that debate. here's the thing. i think what we need is some momentum. i think what needs to happen is if the senate can come to some sort of agreement, that gives speaker boehner a little more breathing room and there's more pressure on house republicans to take up a vote, even if it doesn't have the unanimous support of the republican conference. if they can pass a bill with republican support and democratic support, send it to the president, that's obviously what i think the thinking here is is to try to create some momentum here. we don't have any momentum. we're having some meetings. i think that's fine. but if the senate can get a deal done and then send it to the house, then i think obviously we're in a much better spot. we saw it with t.a.r.p. we've seen it before. that's the theory of this case here that mitch mcconnell and
senator reid, dealmakers who love this sort of stuff can come together and work something out. >> and david, to bring you back in, a lot of people here at least the deal you referred to earlier was that $1 million threshold, raising taxes on those people, incomes over $1 million. a lot of people shake their heads. if you can't go for that deal what deal would you go for to raise taxes on anyone? i guess what is it? do you think that voters, do republicans think voters will hold it against them so much to raise taxes on the highest of the highest of the highest of income earners in this country? >> well i mean, let's sort of remember the speaker had over 90% of his caucus behind him in terms of that vote. and that particular situation none of the democrats were willing to support that particular move. so he had to rely completely on republicans. he had 90%. >> wait a minute. you're telling me he had the support he needed and the votes he needed to get that. >> i'm saying he had 90% of the republican conference behind him. without democratic votes that put him below 218. so obviously he couldn't get that through.
having said that, when you get to this sort of -- in this situation where you get where if you get to a deal between reid and mcconnell, one, i think you'll see some democrats come across. but, two i think you're going to see republicans. the concern here was i'm going to have to take a vote as a republican that's going to go nowhere in the senate and could be used against me and it's not going to accomplish anything in this particular situation the idea we could move forward and get a lot of those tax cuts in place for so many americans now all of sudden and the reality that it could happen, now that becomes a much more attractive proposition. although again you're going to see a lot of republicans being just very unhappy. it's kind of our nature in terms of not being happy about tax increases. >> doug, you hit on something a second ago as well. you talked about this issue that we have no momentum. we don't have a lot of time to build up momentum. we just got to get it done now. is this just washington? a lot of people they get so turned off, they're being engaged and talking about going off the cliff a little bit so we can come back and vote. republicans say they voted for a
tax cut. the public's not going to fall for that anymore. is this washington now? this is it? >> well, i think the house of representatives is totally dysfunctional. and it's been dysfunctional for two years. and you're seeing it was reported that it's the least productive congress in history. and what they're very good at is naming post offices. what they aren't very good at is doing big things like this. now, i think again i think that if speaker boehner decides to open up the vote, allow a vote for everyone democrats and republicans to vote on a package, even if there isn't a majority of the majority there or unanimous support within the republican conference, i think the outlook is a little bit brighter. but look, we're going to have to do big things next year with corporate tax reform, immigration reform. and this, i think, given where the stakes involved should be easier. and if we can't do this, it makes the prospects of doing
those other big things dimmer, i think. >> big things. i just shake my head right now thinking we knew this was coming and here we are just a couple of days. one more thing to you here, david, are people -- i say people, members of congress, oftentimes people can't understand like why on a national level as we watch, why wouldn't they vote to raise taxes on the highest of the highest income earners. but do you sense this -- not sense this, it's fact is it not that many of these members of congress are concerned with their district and what happens in their little district and how they can get re-elected in a couple of years and what's happening down the road. they are voting what's going to work for them. it seems like there's no national consensus, a sense of a greater good for the country. people are just taking care of themselves. would you agree with that? >> well, i think there's an honest disagreement in terms of what this impact of the increases have. republicans look at this increase of those making over 250,000 and say gee you're going to raise taxes on 894,000 small businesses. we think that would have a very negative impact on the economy. the president looks at it differently in terms of saying gee these individuals can afford
it. so there's a real difference here in terms of trying to resolve it. i do want to go back to one point that doug brought up to push back just a touch. we passed the extension of all the tax cuts, we dealt with the sequester, and there was a bill in the senate. and look, the speaker can't tell harry reid what to do. it's up to harry reid to do what he needs to do. so i would suggest that's been a point of frustration. hopefully we're now seeing that get resolved. >> last word. those bills aren't going anywhere in the senate. the voters were very clear they want a balanced approach. they believe the wealthy should pay a little bit more and that middle class families should get a tax increase. that's what they voted for, i believe, in the last election. that's not what the republicans are standing up for right now. >> david, doug, gentlemen, i appreciate you both being here. and it is. it's a shame we're to this point, just a few days out and americans are worried right now about what their paychecks are going to look like the first couple of weeks of january. but thank you both so much. hopefully this gets worked out. you all have a happy new year. >> happy new year. >> about 42 minutes past the
hour now. want to turn to number five on our first five web stories. beyonce' is looking for co-stars in her super bowl halftime show. pepsi is running a contest that i am going to sign up for during this commercial break where 50 fans and their friends can take the stage with beyonce' in new orleans. fan photos also will be incorporated into an introductory video and tv commercials. [ male announcer ] it's that time of year again.
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nbc's lester holt. she asked him about the recent stint co-anchoring with his son at chicago's nbc station and whether he is still a california boy. but first she asked for lester's take on the nature of capitol hill hills's fiscal cliff discussions. >> i think there's a lot of people who are obviously to the left or the right and they're very certain and the world seems very clear to them. then there's a lot of folks, probably folks like me who are kind of like, you know, i don't even know. i don't know if you raise taxes on the rich if that improves anything or if it hurts the economy. you get to a point, i think a lot of folks to this point do something. don't be paralyzed. find a way to work together. let's just move forward. i think people right now recognize that the country has a lot of problems. they just want to -- let's just move. let's do something. and not be paralyzed. i think there's a growing sense among people i talk to is that the political process is more
geared toward winning than it is governing. the sense that both sides really have this almost this ego at stake. >> let's talk about your weekends. because with that and ""dateline"" when are you not working? >> i get a lot of this you're the hardest-working man in tv. there's no question, i wear a lot of hats here. i enjoy what i do. but i always tell people, at the end of the day i'm reading the news. i'm not digging ditches. i mean, i come to work and i look at people doing a lot harder jobs, working a lot longer days and making a lot less money. so i'm one of those people that constantly feels blessed. and it's a great job. it's a great job. because "today" show i get to show more of my personality. it's just a little more fun. nightly i get to go back to my really hard news roots and really take a big stake in the editorial process. "dateline" is kind of new to my menu. i'm enjoying that. because i haven't done a lot of long-form reporting. it's a different kind of a muscle i'm exercising. i think i not only have the greatest job in the world, i
have three of the greatest jobs in the world. >> so many years you worked in chicago. you're from california. do you consider yourself a new yorker now? >> you know, i love california. and i get back there a lot. and i feel very at home in california. you're a california girl. there is something about california get behind the wheel of a -- i don't have a car here. i get behind the wheel of a car. >> are you kidding me? are you surviving me i couldn't be without my car i'm such a california girl. >> you want the truth? i'm not really enamored to the east coast, but i love new york city. and now i mean, new york is part of my dna. i love this city. i love the diversity of it. i love work walking. i love the energy. but at the end of the day -- >> california cool. >> california is home. >> what about chicago, though, which must hold a special place in your heart right now, because that is where your son is working following in dad's footsteps. and you guys did the coolest
thing co-anchoring the news together. >> the anchoring thing is very funny because he just got married. and he and his wife invited us to come from thanksgiving. i said great. i said you're not working thanksgiving. well, actually i am working. i said oh, man. i said, well, i know sometimes in the news room people want thanksgiving off. if your co-anchor wants off i'm happy to fill in he goes really? i said yeah. i was half joking. ultimately his co-anchor was work. but they needed him to do the noon news and he didn't have a co-anchor. they said do you want to do it? i'm like really? so i'm like yeah, yeah, i'm in. so we did. and i know he's dish watch him all the time because i have a sling box. i can watch him. i know he's really good. but i have to tell you, alex, two minutes before air time i got really nervous. i started thinking does he know what he's doing? here's me. i'm like on this script where it says 2 shot that means we're going to see both -- i was like -- suddenly i'm like i hope he knows how to do tv. bizarre parental you don't want
to embarrass your kid thing. we start going and i'm like he's better than i am. what am i thinking. >> isn't that what you want as a parent? you want other kids to do better than you've done. >> he tried to keep it on the down low the relationship stuff. that only lasted for a short time. when he was doing weekends he would do a tease with me. he would come on his show and let's find out what's coming up next in the "today" show. let's go to new york and talk to lester holt. dad, he would say? so hey, here's what's coming us. it's a lot of fun. he's going to go a long way. >> tomorrow at this time lester's going to tell us about the two stories he's covered that still stay with him to this day. about ten minutes of the top of the hour now. the new movie by quentin tarantino, "django unchained," why does spikes lee say he is not going to see that movie? this is "weekends with alex witt." [ woman ] ring. ring.
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new winter storm hitting the northeast. snow hitting new york. we'll have an update from the weather channel in our next hour. quentin tarantino's new movie "django unchained" follows a slave turned bounty hunter in a bloody search for his wife in the antebellum south. >> how do you like the bounty hunting business? >> kill white folks and they pay for it? what's not to like? >> i like the way you die, boy. >> it is a rambunctious sword. >> christopher -- excuse me, chris witherspoon is the entertainment ed for for the grill joins me now. a couple of people have questions about the movie. one person in particular took issue. let's listen to his old nemesis, tarantino's old nemesis spike
lee. >> disrespectful to my ancestors to see that film. that's all i'm going to say. i can't disrespect my ancestors. >> okay. what is he talking about? and what is he taking issue with? these two have a history that goes way, way back. >> goes way back. i think he's taking issue with the fact that the "n" word is used in this film 110 times. also the film takes a very harsh look at slavery but also there's human erous moments, moments we don't know when to laugh. a great romance story, but spike's big issue is use of the n word, leonardo dicaprio using this unfiltered. really intense sometimes. >> you say it's funny at times. this movie is hilarious. certainly the first third to half i was confused about what i was seeing. i thought it was a drama about slavery and then it's hysterical quite frankly. but the n word, did it get to a point where it was distracting?
because quentin tear arantino s this is part of the south. >> i think it would be odd if you saw a film about slavery and it's not used. but being used during comedy scenes where they're using the n word. critics so far praise this film, t.j. it's done really well. brought in 15 million at the box office christmas day. it was the number one opening for an r rated film on christmas day which is pretty big for tarantino. >> now spike lee went on to say, american slavery was not a spaghetti western. it was a holocaust. my ancestors are slaves stolen from africa. i will honor them. but does it or can you? i don't know. should we take issue with i guess something like slavery being treated in such a way? i say treated in such a way, when people see it they'll get what i'm saying. >> i think we've seen it done other ways so many times, like in "amistad" and "roots" that
made slavery very serious. this is a more modern approach to slavery. something about this film is very cool. you have a black superhero. >> a movie on slavery and it's cool. >> it may bring people that may not go see movies like "amistad" or "roots" and it's bringing up a topic that isn't addressed very often. it's brilliant. it could be offensive but it's brilliant. >> no doubt he's going to be picking up nominations? >> five nominations for golden globe. >> thank you so much. we're getting close to the top of the hour. the race against the clock, this fiscal cliff getting close and closer. in a few minutes we'll talk to senator bernie sanders of vermont. t yet, but they're gonna fall in love, get married, have a couple of kids, [ children laughing ] move to the country, and live a long, happy life together where they almost never fight about money. [ dog barks ] because right after they get married, they'll find some retirement people who are paid on salary, not commission.
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we are at the top of the hour. hello to you all. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." i'm t.j. holmes in for her today. 1:00 in the east, 10:00 in the
west. let me tell you what is happening. we've got three days to go until we go off that cliff, the fiscal cliff. new today one key congressman is giving us a sober status report of where things are. >> i think there is a sense of urgency, t.j., just because of where we are. we're right at the deadline. as a matter of fact, it looks like we will be here on new year's eve and possibly new year's day. they've already alerted us, members of the house, to look at the possible way of doing that. >> at this hour, senate leaders are scrambling to piece together a last-minute deal to avoid middle class tax hikes and possibly delay steep spending cuts. both sides weighing inned to. >> congress can prevent it from happening if they act now. leaders in congress are working on a way to prevent this tax hike on the middle class, i believe we may be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time. >> republicans hope to work across the aisle to solve these and other critical challenges
facing america in the new year. divided government is a good time to solve hard problems. and in the next few days leaders in washington have an important responsibility to work together and do just that. >> two reports for you here at the top of the hour. nbc's luke russert and nbc's kristen welker look at the capitol, kristen at the white house. luke let's start with you. next 72 hours, what are they supposed to look like and what's happening right now? >> reporter: it's interesting, t.j. i'm here at an empty capitol hill. it really is. minority leader mitch mcconnell, majority leader hay harry reid are negotiating over some type of package to avert a large tax hike on the middle class. what the package would look like we don't know. over the next 72 hours we'll have the negotiation, between mcconnell and reid going to go onned to. tomorrow the house of representatives gavels back into session about 6:30 p.m. if there is to be a deal between reid and mcconnell it would most likely be presented to the house gop tomorrow. possibly we could have a vote late sunday night or early
monday morning. that's if everything goes as planned. if they can reach some sort of agreement. now here the most important thing, t.j., the sticking point is how would any type of deal if it's reached between mitch mcconnell and harry reid look to the house gop conference? that is there's a group of conservatives in that conference that do not want to move on anything that they view as a tax increase. would john boehner be able or willing to muster the votes in order to pass any compromise that would come out of the senate? john boehner had said explicitly he's waiting for the senate to act. they won't do anything until that happens. it's really up in the air where we all go from here. there is a little bit of optimism i will say that folks think that mitch mcconnell and harry reid can work something out that won't be a perfect deal. a lot of folks saying they don't like it won't deal with the sequester. that perhaps it won't cut enough taxes, raise any taxes. you'll get sniping from both sides. but there's a hint of optimism this could be averted by new
year's eve before the ball drops. >> luke russert throwing around the word optimism this morning. >> we'll see, my friend. we'll see. >> i haven't heard that word a lot this morning. so thank you for that. good to see you. let me head over to nbc's kristen welker. see if she can match that optimism. also, kristen, even if this doesn't work out it sounds like the president might have a backup plan of some kind. >> reporter: that's right. when president obama met with top congressional leaders here at the white house for about an hour on friday, he said look, if you can't come up with a plan that can pass through both chambers you should put, he said, his plan to a vote. that plan would include extending the bush era tax cuts for those making $250,000 or less. it would call for extending unemployment insurance benefits among other things. of course that $250,000 mark is a real problem for republicans. you heard luke just talk about that, the fact that many republicans don't want to increase taxes at all. so that is a real sticking point. but president obama saying he
believes if his proposal were put to a vote in the senate and house it could get through. of course it would be a much bigger challenge in the house. he'd have to get almost all democrats to vote for it and about 30 republicans. the calculation right now, though, is that whatever proposal is put through the senate that essentially the house will be left holding the ball. so it would be up to them to decide what to do with it. that's something that president obama talked about in his weekly address address today. saying let's let the legislation go through. if house republicans want to vote it down that's their prerogative. the strategy of course is to make them own the defeat if that is what in fact does wind up happening. so there's a lot of public pressure to get this done. we've already seen the markets have been impacted. public frustration mounting. consumer confidence has been impacted. we've seen less spending during this holiday season in part because people are concerned about the fiscal cliff. so i think there's a lot of public pressure to get something done, but of course time is really running out. and time is of the essence right
now. >> and we knew this was coming for, i don't know, forever. and here we are. just a few days away. kristen welker, white house correspondent. good to see you as always. >> you, too. with the negotiations now in the hands of the senate, will they have any more luck dealing with the fiscal cliff than the house did? let's bring in a senator, bernie sanders a member of the budget and joint economic committee. sir, thank you for being here. these are your colleagues. what are you hearing? are you hearing anything this morning that makes you want to use the word that luke russert was using, optimism? >> i think we have a reasonable chance to get a short-term fix through the senate. the problem that boehner will have in the house is that his caucus is dominated by right wing extremists who are very hesitant, who will do everything they can to prevent the wealthiest people in this country and the largest corporations from paying a nickel more in taxes. but i think if it goes to the house and if the democrats remain strong and you've got 20 or 30 republicans, you probably
can prevent the tax hike, the 98% of the american people, and the ordealing with the crisis of 2 million american workers losing their unemployment benefits and other short-term issues. so i am cautiously optimistic we can get something through the senate. we'll see what boehner can do with his right wing friends in the house. >> sir, it sounds like a handful. this shouldn't be the case. if senators can get together and get something done, again it's going to be a short-term fix. not even talking about a big deal anymore. so we just need to do what we have to do to patch this thing up to make sure folks don't have their taxes go up next week. but sounds like you're putting this in the hands of a handful. so you say it's boehner's problem. isn't this all of our problem? this is the senate's problem, it's the house's problem? it's congress's problem? >> not quite so simple as that. i mean, the bottom line here i think most americans know the house is dominated by right wing extremists. that's boehner's challenge. these are folks who want to
protect, despite a $16 trillion national debt, they want to make sure that the wealthiest people in this country don't pay a nickel more in taxes, and at the same time they want to make massive cuts in social security, medicare and medicaid. that is the reality. and i think the american people in poll after poll and in the elections have been very clear. recent "washington post" poll, 72% of the american people say that people making more than 250,000 a year should be paying more in taxes. people do not want to see social security and medicare cut. so the issue is that we have some right wing guys in the house who are adamant, in my view, about protecting the interests of the wealthy and cutting back on programs that are struggling, middle class should not lose. >> senator, what deal are you prepared to support? we talked about the $250,000 number. the president went up to 400,000 possibly. how high would you be willing to go? >> you've got to back up a little bit and understand that the middle class in america is disappearing. the wealthy are doing phenomenally well.
and their tax rates are quite low. so i think at the very least that people earning $250,000 a year or more should lose the bush tax breaks. i think we should deal with corporate loopholes. we lose $100 billion every year because corporations and the wealthy stash their money in the kaman islands. >> okay. but we're talking -- now it's last minute. i think many democrats onboard that $250,000 number. but we are the at 11th hour now. it's the end of the day. maybe everybody has to give a little. so what number are you willing to compromise on? >> it depends upon the package. it's not just a number. are we going to protect the 2 million workers about to lose their unemployment benefits. are we going to deal with the doctors' fix. so there are other issues that are out there. and i will certainly take a hard look. look. nobody wants to go over this cliff. it's bad for people, it's bad for the entire economy. and i hope -- i hope that republicans will give us a package that the american people want. and if so i would be delighted
to support it. >> you say republicans there. i'll let you end on this. sir, aren't both parties to blame there in washington? >> no. >> you don't think so? democrats are not to blame? take no responsibility for where we are? >> i'm not a democrat. i am an independent. >> independents. you. >> but here's the point. i don't think there's the equivalence. people are saying, well, shouldn't the rich pay a little bit more in tax? and then shouldn't we cut social security, medicare and medicaid? the answer is no. the wealthy are doing phenomenally well. their taxes are down. the middle class is hurting. we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income. it should not be a balance on the middle class and the rich. the wealthy and large corporations are going to have to help us in a significant way deal with deficit reduction. >> all right. senator, we will check in with you all again. we are all watching closely, certainly hoping for the best up there in washington, d.c. we certainly appreciate your timed to. don't see you again, you have a new year. >> you, too. >> all right. we're about 11 minutes past the hour now. you want to see "meet the press" tomorrow. david gregory sitting down
exclusively with president obama talking about this fiscal cliff. it will be the president's second appearance on the program as commander in chief. you need to check your local listings. want to turn now to a developing story. crews are searching for survivors of a deadly plane crash in russia. the passenger plane skidded off the runway during a landing at moscow airported to. aircraft broke into pieces, burst into flames. the plane was carrying between 8 and 12 crew members. local reports saying at least four people were killed in that. again a developing story we are keeping an eye on. also another developing story here is weather. a new winter storm system is dumping snow in the northeast. most of the snow is piling up in pennsylvania and new york as we speak. but parts of new england could see the worst of this storm. the weather channel meteorologist mike seidel. he is live for us alongside the pennsylvania turnpike in new cumberland. ways going to ask you what's it like. we can kind of get an idea of exactly what it is like where you are right now. >> hey, good afternoon, t.j.
we picked up several inches of snow since we last talked to you bright and early before sunrise this morning. it was just a light snowfall. now a little bit heavier. we've had -- it comes and goes. the turnpike is in good shape. they have thrown a lot of salt on this roadway. remember, this is the third time this area has shovelled snow this week. they had some snow on monday, a couple of inches. a couple more inches on wednesday. the biggest air travel issue may be at the airports. so far about 200 flights have been canceled in and out of laguardia new york and kennedy new york. and we're starting to see more flights being canceled because the snow is now flying around the tristate area. that means they have to deice, they have to restrict certainly the visibility is restricted. they have to put more distance between the planes. as a result we're going to see more flights canceled and flights will be delayed. officially from the faa the only delay is in philadelphia about 60 minutes. speaking of philadelphia, they have had their first measurable snow of the season. the big cities have missed out on most of the snow because the
storms have been close to the coast. with that said you mentioned new england. boston providence and the cape, look out, a winter storm warning in effect until tomorrow morning. those spots could get 6, maybe 10 inches of snow. so big storm there. the rest of us a quick hitter. and then it just stays plain old cold, colder than average for the rest of the year into the first days of 2013. >> quick hitter. mike seidel for us this morning. thank you so much. coming up in just a moment, the nation on the edge of the fiscal cliff. what kind of deal is going to satisfy americans? it's 13 past the hour. i'm t.j. and you're watching "weekends with alex witt." ♪ ♪
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17 minutes past the hour now. president obama says he's optimistic senate leaders can avoid the fiscal cliff with just three days to go. if no agreement is reached the president says he's urge congress to hold up or down votes on a package that prevents tax hikes on the middle class and extends unemployment insurance. joining me now, congressional correspondent for the national journal, chris fragts and congressional reporter for the "washington post" ed o'keefe. chris let me start with you this time. we're talking about a deal could be reached. the president modestly optimistic. i'm hearing that word a little bit thrown around this morning and this afternoon, optimistic. so what does that deal look like now? >> well, t.j., i thought maybe your butmper musing coming back in shoulding final countdown. just a few days left and the senate is at work. a lot of optimism out there and a lot of happy talk coming out
of friday's white house meeting. but the sides still remain pretty far apart. reid and mcconnell on who is rich. what's the definition of wealthy. is it 250,000? is it 400,000? they still haven't hashed that out yet. there's the addition of unemployment benefits, how do we extend those? how do we make sure middle class families aren't hit by the ant. so there's a lot of issues on the table. what i'm hearing at this point they're not close yet. and the leaders decide the not to bring the senate into sessioned to so that they could work behind the scenes to try to come to a deal. you have two of the leaders here who are both deal cutters. but even if they come with a deal, still big questions about whether or not it would pass the senate and then the bigger question, could it pass a house that has shown to be very, very anti-tax increase of any kind. >> ed, let me get you in here. you heard chris say there that he's not hearing that the two sides necessarily are close right now. but all the optimism i hear
being talked about today so far has to do with reid and mcconnell being able -- people feel pretty good the senate will be able to come up with something. the deal once it goes to the house the prospects there. >> but you know, bringing in reid and mcconnell, they're guys that have cut these deals in recent years whether it's the debt ceiling or other issues. it often comes down to the two of them to put something together that can quickly pass the senate and go over to the house. republicans have made it clear mcconnell is not going to bring forward anything they can't get enough majority republicans to vote for. and enough republicans in the house with democrats to pass this thing. there's always the opportunity for the house to amend it when they get their hands on it which would mean it would have to come back to the senate potentially. it's pretty clear at this point if they're going to put anything together that can be voted on it's going to have to have enough democratic and republican support in both chambers. that includes sorting out whose tax, go up, 250,000 or 400,000. whether unemployment benefits are extended.
wls there's a patch for the amt. whether perhaps they throw in this concern about milk prices that might go up because they never passed a farm bill this year. if those types of things are in there and everyone acknowledges they'll come back next month into february to sort out the remaining issues, then conceivably they could get something done before we all pop the champagne on monday night. >> okay. but look, popping champagne seems like a far-fetched idea given where we are with all this. >> we'll need it. chris and i will need it because we've been working so hard. >> chris, if we talk about a deal now there's not going to be a grand bargain. maybe they do a bare-bones type of a deal to make sure people's taxes don't go up on january 1. and then we go okay. we avoided the cliff. how long, then, before the three of us are right back here having some kind of a conversation about our next crisis, our next deadline, our next cliff? >> i think it will be very, very close, t.j. because what we're seeing is a kind of showdown mentality, where the leaders only partially
fix problems, they leave big problems on the table. and in this case it's going to be the debt ceiling. when is the nation's credit card going to be maxed out? the secretary of the treasury tells us december 31st is when we hit our limit and he has to take extraordinary measures for the next six to eight weeks to make sure that the government can pay its bills. so we'll be back here very, very shortly asking the question again, how do we ensure that there's a deal struck where we can raise our debt limit so that we don't default on our obligations? republicans are looking at that as inability to leverage more spending cuts, which by all accounts won't be in this deal going forward. if we do get a deal, it's largely just on taxes here with the first of the year approaching. and we will be again back here talking about how do we deal with a debt ceiling debate that is sure to rattle the markets, perhaps even more than this fiscal cliff debate has. >> all right. ed, chris, gentlemen, i'm going to have to leave threat. good to see you both. if i don't see you again, happy
new year to you. thanks for being here this weekend. >> happy new year, t.j. so what's congress doing to save the nation's milk money? have you been paying attention to this? a potential crisis down on the farm. you're watching "weekends with alex witt."
the state of maine now marrying same-sex couples. steven bridges, michael snell were the first in line at portland city hall. the couple says they didn't expect to see the media or cheering crowds outside. voters approved marriage equality this november. want to turn now to our three big money headlines. we're talking milk money, something else on the rise. and a sales surge. we'll talk retail and economy with an analyst, heatha
heathah proboker. we are counting down to something else that's very important, milk and our milk money. a gal of milk is going to cost how much more? >> $8. that's the take away. right now we pay 3.50 a gallon. it's part of this farm bill that's about to go through having to do with the fiscal cliff. the president right now is in talks as we speak to talk about how we can kind of move this through. and there's this congressional agricultural committee that is made up of all these different congressional leaders, bipartisan bill they want to put together, a proposal so that they can make sure that that gallon of milk stays at 3.50 as opposed to $8. it could go up as soon as january 7th. >> this is not the only staple we need to worry about. >> groceries in addition are going up about 4%. that includes eggs, poultry, beef, that has to do with the drought. also other things that are going up. shipping costs are going to be going up as well. that's going to go up between 4.5% and 4.9% as well as health insurance premiums.
now, that depends on each state, right? but it's probably going to go up somewhere between 4 to 6%. >> all right. but we're going to end on good news. i'm glad you saved the third one for last. there is good news. >> right. housing sales are up 4.4%. that's the most it's been up in 2 1/2 years. that's up 15% this time last year. but analysts are saying hold your horses. it's only a fraction of what we were at at 2005. not such great news, we are kind of coming out of the woods there with the housing sales. >> we will take it. heathah, thank you so much. good to see you this weekend. we're getting close to the bottom of the hour. still ahead in the countdown to the fiscal cliff. an insider's view of the house speaker's leadership. is he willing to compromise at this 11th hour? i'll speak with house budget committee member karen bass. that's coming up in just a moment. stay with us. [ male announcer ] you like who you are...
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citi price rewind. start saving at bottom of the hour now. welcome back to "weekends with alex witt." i'm in for alex this weekend. i'm t.j. holmes. now we want to look back at this looming fiscal cliff. with me now, someone all too familiar with these fiscal cliff negotiations, democrat congresswoman karen bass, a member of the budget committee. good morning to you. you are not quite in d.c. yet, but you are headed there soon. when you get there, though, what do you anticipate you're going to be doing? >> good morning, t.j. what i anticipate is going to happen is that the floor will be opening up on debate for a variety of bills. and frankly, in terms of the house we're going to be waiting for the senate to act. we do have other work to do. so i know that we're going to go in session and begin voting at 6:30 tomorrow evening. but i think the business is in
the senate right now. so let's see what reid and mcconnell come up withed today >> i have been hearing some optimism this morning at least in relation to these two men, mcconnell and reid, veterans being able to get something through the senate. so there's some optimism they'll be able to come up with something. but the issue is now what happens in the house. where is your optimism in terms of whatever they send over to the house is going to be something that all of you all are going to be able to pass? >> well, let me tell you. i am optimistic. and i'm optimistic for a few reasons. this is really a repeat of what happened last year around the payroll tax extension. reid and mcconnell negotiated it, and then house passed it. i think that you don't call 435 members of the house back to travel across country without feeling some confidence that a deal is going to pass. so i really think that the issue is going to come down to whether or not boehner will allow his caucus to vote and not insist on
the dogmatic principle that 100% of his caucus has to agree on a bill. you just can't manage things that way, i don't believe. >> okay. we can't manage things this way. but it is infuriating that we're here, anyway. >> absolutely. >> but it's infuriating because i've been hearing from everyone i talk to this morning that we're talk about a handful of people that are holding the paychecks of this entire country hostage. everything goes back to what boehner is going to be able to do. >> right. >> we shouldn't be functioning this way, no doubt. so how are we going to get around that if needs be this time? because the clock is running out. >> well, i think because the clock is running out. and the other thing you have to remember is that a number of his members are not coming back next year. they either have retired or they lost their election. and so those are some likely votes that could join with democrats. you know, depending on what the deal is, and of course i can't speak on behalf of my caucus, but i will tell you that the bill that the senate passed earlier this year to extend the tax cuts for those earning $250,000 and below, i do believe
that the majority of my caucus would have agreed to that. and then if you a have a handful of republicans. the problem is he has been wedded to this principle that his caucus all has to act in lock step fashion. that's the problem. >> let's listen to the president. the president was modestly optimistic at times. well, he said that yesterday. he was modestly optimistic. he even has a backup plan. let's listen to the president. i'll ask you about it on the other side. >> i just had a good and construct i've discussion at the white house with senate and house leadership about how to prevent this tax hike on the middle class. i'm optimistic we may still be able to reach an agreement that could pass both houses in time. >> in time. in time is the key. if there is any holdup of any kind once the house gets it maybe -- okay. this is again this is best case scenario. if you all get it maybe sunday night, if you all get it monday morning. is there enough time, congresswoman? >> yes. i absolutely believe there's enough time. and what it probably is going to
be is that we would be voting into late at night on monday. you know, if you think about it -- >> new year's eve. >> -- historically this is legislative drama. but when it comes to writing legislation it's not like they're writing it by hand. i do think that there is plenty of time. i know that sound crazy. what i don't believe there's plenty of time for is the grand deal. so what i think what we will have will be a smaller deal that will prevent taxes from going up on 98% of the u.s. public and we'll take pretty there. >> would you be okay with us, someone suggested this morning, going off the cliff a little bit? falling a few feet off the cliff, not bungy jumping off the clip which means it goes into a couple of days into january maybe or a week or two to where it doesn't do i guess that much damage relatively speaking? would you be okay with that? >> well, you know, i wouldn't. i don't think that we should. i mean, what signal does that send to the country and then to the world? but one thing that you have to remember about that little bit off the cliff? it's the millions of people whose unemployment is going to cut off.
and so there are drastic consequences. and i think it would be irresponsible of us. and i am -- maybe i'm the eternal optimist, but with two or three days left, believe it or not, i do believe it's enough time for us to come to a deal to avert the fiscal cliff. and i'm confident that's going to happen. >> you said irresponsible of us, speak of the entire body, washington itself. >> yes. >> but all of the blame, and it's hard. depends on what side you're on. i guess for the american people, everyone agrees on this one thing taxes should not be going up for 98% of the country next tuesday. so why in the world can we not agree? but are they going to hold it against all of you, do you believe, and should they? or do you think the way this is playing out the american people are going to hold this against republicans and maybe just a handful of those -- some of those folks surrounding boehner and pressuring him into the corner he's in right now? >> well, i do think that it looks bad for both houses for both parties. but at the end of the day, i'm sorry but i just don't think it's equal. the democrats don't have a
grover norquist that threat, the caucus if they even think about voting for taxes. i do think the u.s. public has seen the differences between the parties. >> i think a lot of people and certainly a lot of our viewers would agree with you on that. it's not necessarily equal blame right now. congresswoman bass, you have a safe trip back over to washington, d.c. and absolutely good luck over there. and if i don't talk to you again before next week, happy new year to you. >> happy new year to you as well. >> all right. and with an in-depth look at what all this cliff dwelling means, our nation's fiscal health, brian mcguinness is president of the committee for responsible federal budget and head of the fix the debt campaign. and i know this has to just be driving you crazy to be listening to some of these conversations that we have been having this morning. so how disappointing is it to you to hear about a possible small deal that keeps taxes from going up, which is a good thing for all americans maybe next week, but what does that do for this country's long-term
financial health? >> that's exactly right. i mean, the real opportunity here was to use this action-forcing moment of not going off the fiscal cliff, which we shouldn't, to replace it with a sensible debt deal which would actually tackle head on the huge fiscal challenges facing the country that we've known about for years and there's been a political unwillingness to confront. and now it looks like what we're going to have is perhaps a small deal that averts the large part of the cliff but doesn't really do anything to fix this problem. and it's just so discouraging. i mean, we've seen the story play out over and over again each december at the end of the year where we have major challenges. and you want the parties to come together. and the best they can do to come together is actually make a fiscal situation worse. they are about to increase the deficit and not do anything to really put in place a debt deal that would help get us back on track. and so discouraging doesn't really cover it. it's really a terrible terrible
reflection on congress right now what we're seeing. >> let's say we get the small deal to prevent taxes from going up. i think a lot of people would have some relief at that. i can't even believe this is going to come out of my mouth. i probably know what you're going to say. do you have any confidence, is what i was going to say, that maybe in the first two, three weeks of the year next year, first couple of months even of the year that they'll get back to -- once we get past this cliff issue, that we'll get back to having those big conversations about taking on deficits and debts? >> okay. so maybe i'll surprise you. i am holding out confidence. here's. why it looks like they're not going to get rid of the sequester. on one hand that's really bad policy. because the sequester is a big part of what could put the economy back in recession. but on the other hand, fit keeps the pressure on, they may keep it in place because they actually want to keep pressure on. as much as we watch what's going on in washington as discouraging as it is and frustrating that policymakers just fail to really do their job and tackle big challenges, they do know we have
to fix these problems. and we may see sort of a way to keep the discussions going that keep the pressure on them so they have to put in place a bigger debt deal. i think it's very important that that happens as quickly as possible. the longer this drags out, the more likely it is that the environment becomes more partisan, more toxic, and we don't put a sensible and gradual debt deal in place in time. so what i hope is that if they come up with this way to avert the tax increase for most american families, they also put in place some kind of process that keeps the discussions going. and really, they need to devote themselves to the discussions. january should not be put your head down and focus on ignoring the problem month. it should be bring the leaders back to washington and really have the talks start in earnest if they don't get this resolved in december which it appears clearly that they're not going to. >> okay. the debt ceiling, we're about to reach that limit next week as well. timothy geithner, the treasure
secretariry saying he can keep the economy going for a couple of months. what are your hopes for that debt ceiling debate that no doubt is going to have to happen by what, february? >> the debt ceiling in the past has played an important role that is a speed bump when we are borrowing too quickly and don't make any plans to change course. that's been a reminder we need to. i would say that the way the debt ceiling was used last time where there was serious concerns about default on the country brings into question our responsibleness in terms of increasing the debt ceiling when we have to. and i'm worried. because right now what we have is a real psychological risk to the country that the economy could take a huge hit because citizens, voters, markets, see that washington actually can't govern in the way that we'd want them. to they can't replace the fiscal cliff with a big debt deal. and they're once again starting to talk about the debt ceiling as something that it's not at all clear will be raised in a responsible way. and by responsible, what would happen is they raise the debt
ceiling in return for putting in place budgetary changes. but if there's a real threat of not raising the debt ceiling, there's just too much uncertainty right now which could rattle markets and harm the economy. so i'm worried about holding the country hostage on that. i would much prefer to put in place a comprehensive debt deal in advance of that and raise the debt ceiling at the same time. >> all right. well, i know you keep an eye on this better than just about anybody out there. myra mcguinness, thank you for your time. i know we'll be talking to you down the road. >> thank you. let me turn now about 18 minutes from now i'm going to get up here. craig melvin is going to be in the chair. craig, good morning to you, kind sir. how you doing? >> good to see you over there, my friend. >> good to see you, my man. >> welcome welcome. coming up next two hours i will bring you the latest on what's happening behind closed doors up and down pennsylvania avenue. right now we'll have a number of live reports as lawmakers try to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. also, training teachers to shoot. hundreds of teachers all over the country are getting that
training right now. we'll talk to leaders of that effort. all that and lots more straight ahead, t.j. >> we'll see craig here about 17 minutes top of the hour. straight ahead, the big three coming next. you're watching "weekends with alex witt." [ male announcer ] playing in the nfl is tough. ♪ doing it with a cold, just not going to happen. vicks dayquil -- powerful non-drowsy 6-symptom cold & flu relief. ♪ no matter what city you're playing tomorrow. [ coughs ] [ male announcer ] you can't let a cold keep you up tonight. ♪ vicks nyquil -- powerful nighttime 6-symptom cold & flu relief. ♪
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so talk to your doctor about low t. hey, michael! [ male announcer ] and step out of the shadows. hi! how are you? [ male announcer ] learn more at [ laughs ] hey! about a quarter of the top of the hour. time for the big three in today's topics. deal or no deal, worst week best week. perry bacon jr.. republican strategist and msnbc contributor susan dell perce pe. perry, how do you see this timeline playing out right now? you take me through the next three days as you see them. >> my sense is we're going to have outlines of some kind of an agreement later today into tomorrow and that there'll be a vote at some point in the senate and maybe monday in the house. i do think we'll actually end up
reaching a deal. there'll be some kind of extension of the middle class tax cuts. i can't tell you what the number it will be. obama's for 250,000. republicans are for something higher. but i do think there's a lot of prospects for a deal. but it will be like getting close to the deadline on new year's believe. >> that sound about right. susan, though, no matter what happens here, no matter what deal comes out republicans are going to be able to help but come out looking bad at the end of this, are they not? >> i think everyone will stumble off the fiscal cliff if you will. we're going to have a patch. and yes, the republicans right now are not looking as good as they would hope to especially after the election. >> that's putting it lightly. >> it's a nice saturday afternoon. there's no reason -- but fact is that they do have one more card to hold. and that's the debt ceiling debate. and that's something where they could really be strong on spending cuts. if they have to give in and come up with this patch, everyone is going want this debt ceiling done before the president's
state-of-the-union or hopefully before his inaugural speech. so the president's looking long term. he's looking legacy. and here's where republicans have a chance to cut a better deal than normally expected. >> democrats feel like they're in a pretty good position right now whatever deal comes out of it may be one they can stomach? >> i hate to pop the optimism bubble. but i think progressives should be a little bit concerned for a couch reasons. one is if you look at logistically how this has to happen, you have mitch mcconnell and harry reid coming together. for a deal to happen between the two of them, mitch mcconnell is going to have to sign off on something here. he may be facing potentially a tea party challenge this cycle, maybe not. but he's got to watch his own hometown politics. and so any deal that he's going to bless is going to probably not be something that's going to beprogressives. then for john boehner to bring it to the floor, boehner also has his own very complicated politics within his caucus as well. so i think before we pop open the champagne just yet we should acknowledge this is still very, very complicated. and before any deal can happen
there's a lot of stuff going on here. >> we had some optimism going there. >> he brings up a good point as far as it comes to boehner. he has to get re-elect on january 3rd. there's little he can do between now and then. >> that shouldn't be a consideration considering what's happening to the rest of the country. set us inhere. let's listen with susan to what some of the gop is saying right now. >> everything is just about scoring political points. and i know that the american people are tired of that. they're tired of all of us. i understand that. we just make used car salesmen look good. that's the only group that is below us. >> so because we have lacked the courage to face up, to deal with these issues, we here in washington are going to hurt the american economy. we're going to hurt americans at every level. >> that's pretty rough there, susan. used susan. used car salesmen, she used that reference. people should be angry and why should they not? they should be angry.
they should also be angry at their elected officials. democrats and republicans because the fact is that no matter what happens right now, no one has put a long-term goal on the table. they're going come up with a deal, both sides are going to tinker it and the progressives are only willing to go so far when we talk about medicare and medicaid all of a sudden they go up in arms and we talk about spending and the republicans go up in arms and we have no certainty on the table. we're going hit the fiscal cliff. we'll hit the debt ceiling and businesses in our economy will not be able to recover because both sides are very polarized. >> we talked about spending cuts and we don't seem like we are now. this is a pretty small deal and that's not a consideration and we have to get past next tuesday. >> the biggest danger here is the debt ceiling is not included and that would be a great thing for the country to not have another deadline pending with
more doomsday scenarios. the debt ceiling is almost guaranteed not to be in this deal and that's something that i thought would be initially and something president obama pushed for. now we have the same scenario in february again and this is very exhausting to americans to see this deadline pressure in washington. >> blake, do this quickly for me, here. we are kicking the can down the road. just how far down the road is it being kicked in this deal? >> what perry said is exactly right and another reason why progressives should be concerned which is why we're dealing with the debt ceiling again and we just showed i haved why from bob corker and the senator from tennessee talking and he said we'll get the spending cuts in january when the debt ceiling comes up and if you're progressive, we'll have the big spending cuts conversation, which is medicare, medicaid on the table and some of the tax stuff may have been taken care of. >> we're getting close to the top of the hour and the big three coming up with the best and worst of the week. you'll want to hear this next. ke a giant...
♪ and feel like a green giant. ♪ ho ho ho ♪ green giant
>> getting close to the top of the hour. back to the big three, for the best week, worst week. perry, i'll start with you, what's your best and worst this week? i picked chuck hagel. he's our defense secretary and he's getting attacked by democrats and republicans very harshly and has no chance to defend himself and for the winner, it's hard to pick a winner right now. washington is not working right now and it's hard to say anyone is doing a great job and this is not a great situation at all. >> all right, susan. again, it's best and worst, perry. that's all right. what are your best and worsts? >> i actually agree with perry. senator hagel had a horrible week and i think it's also a reflection that in current politics a white house has a democrat and republican that will have to realize you can't just float a name out there. you have to be ready to go to
bat, as far as the best week and i agree washington didn't have a great week, but scott brown did, but he'll be able to run it in a pretty good field for senate for a special election. so he lost his race, but he may be getting his seat back especially when you look at the cal before candidates. >> best week and a tough week, and i agree with perot that one is the state of min has entered the 21st century and issued the first gay marriage and that's great. the first week is struggling americans, low-income americans especially. left we forget while we talk about politics and we have people unemployed who are on the verge of losing unemployment insurance because it's being you used as a political pawn and incurring payroll tax hikes in a couple of days and we have medicare and social security and those things that may be looming in february. >> blake, susan, perry, happy new year to you all. i need to leave it there. in for alex witt this weekend.
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